Howdy! I broke the Yahoo! Store FEEDS Webinar into 3 separate slide shows: #1 Brian on Shopping Engines 101,
#2 Rob on Yahoo Stores & Feeds,
#3 Ryan on Optimizing Feeds,
or you can read the TRANSCRIPT below
Rob: Howdy. All right. Let me get this thing fired up here. How we looking over there? All right. Cool. I’m up.
How ya’ll doing? Rob Snell. I’m here in Starkville, Mississippi. Today we are going to be talking about Yahoo! Stores, and your products, and getting in Google, and the SEO implications of shopping engines.
And the reason I am doing this, recently, I shot my mouth off on Yahoo! Store’s official SEO Webinar three or four months ago, and at PubCon during one of my three presentations that while I knew a lot about Yahoo! Store SEO, getting ranked in the Google Shopping results made my head hurt.
And fortunately, the guys from SingleFeed and the guys from Fast Pivot and a couple other guys were listening, and I got all these emails saying, “Hey, you need to talk to these guys at SingleFeed. They are doing Yahoo! Stores in the shopping engines, not just Google Products.”
So they contacted me after the show and I was really impressed. The main thing that got my attention was they are one of four companies that are endorsed by Google for doing feeds. I mean you can do feeds yourself. You can get somebody else to do them, but these guys are actually endorsed by Google as a company that does this for a living.
And my main takeaway from talking to SingleFeed guys is it is not good enough just to have a feed, which seems to be a big problem for most Yahoo! Stores, not meaning Google Products, but you have to optimize it. So I said, “OK. Show me.” And this was, I guess, back in October or November when we were working on it around the holidays. And we caught just the tail end of the holiday traffic.
And normally, I don’t do a Webinar about a subject that I am just brand spanking new to. I have been doing feeds with these guys maybe since November. And I am really speaking today more as a retailer than as a Yahoo! Store evangelist, as in this is working for me. And I know so many people out there in this economy are hurting and are needing extra sale, and this is the way to get it. Let me go through some of my stuff here.
I will have information from today’s Webinar on my website. If you go to Robsnell.com, I have got a link that says “Read this first” in the nav bar. Click on that. I got a ton of SEO stuff there. I got all my PubCon presentations; a lot of information there.
Most folks who are on this Webinar are on my newsletter, but if you want to join up, just drop an email to email@example.com. And I will repeat this at the end of my stick here.
Like I said, my name is Rob Snell. Most of you folks know me. I am from Starkville, Mississippi. We have multiple Yahoo! Stores. Today, I am going to be specifically talking about our family business, which is owned by my brother and me. We sell training supplies for hunting dogs. Gun Dog Supply. We have been online with Yahoo! Store since before it was Yahoo! Store. Back in ’97 is when we got started.
After I built my store, Paul Graham, the guy who created Yahoo! Store, contacted me and said, “Hey, you did such a good job on your folks’ store, why don’t you consider doing this for other folks?” And I said great, and I became a Yahoo! Store developer. And I used to do that. I am kind of semi-retired from that now.
The Dummies folks contacted me a few years ago. I wrote a book called “Starting a Yahoo! Business for Dummies”. It is on Amazon. It is probably three or four years old now, but the information in there on the marketing and the merchandising stuff is still pretty good.
I speak about Yahoo! Store and e-commerce for small business folks all the time. I just got back from Iceland. Had a pretty cool keynote there.
But why am I doing this Webinar about shopping feeds? The thing is, is that Google Product Search is so much more important today than it was a year ago. It is probably five to 10 times more important because of some changes that Google is making with the organic search results, and I am going to go into that.
Back in the good ole’ days, Froogle, which was Google Product Search, it was built on the back of Yahoo! Store. The guys at Google contacted Yahoo!, if I understand the story right, got permission to get all the XML feeds from 45,000 stores, and they actually built their shopping engine off of Yahoo! Stores. So by default, I mean we were the basis for their shopping engine. And this was, I don’t know, five, six, seven years ago. I don’t remember. It was a while back.
And it never sent a ton of traffic. I remember how everybody was disappointed. Google was getting into shopping and then nothing happened. And so Froogle just kind of didn’t do anything.
Well then, they changed it to Google Base and they have made all these changes, and I never really followed it because it wasn’t 1% of my sales. We would get some traffic from it, but most of my traffic would be from AdWords ads running on the Google product pages.
And then, the Google Products, sometimes they would scrape your site, like the organic Google Bot crawler would. Sometimes you had to submit an XML file. It was really complicated. But Yahoo! Store took care of this in the backend.
In the good old days, all you had to do was turn on your XML and it would automatically suck that data down into Google. And the thing was that your products weren’t really optimized, because they started adding all these new fields, all these different parameters, like brand, and UPC, and manufacturer part number.
And the way that Yahoo! Store generates thumbnails, if you change the size of your thumbnails and republished, the old thumbnail URL’s wouldn’t work anymore because Yahoo! does crazy stuff with the way they do images.
And then last year, in June or July, Google added this new mandatory field called “condition”, which Brian was talking about a minute ago. And if you don’t have condition…and for most of us, the condition would be “new”. For some folks it would be “used”. And there are a couple other conditions. If you don’t have this condition in your product feed, then Google doesn’t like you.
And so immediately, if you had a Legacy store like mine with the info XML, your store is not in Google Product Search, unless you had a custom solution.
You go to Google Products…I was just doing this last night for some little baby products that I have got. I may be making $500 a month off this little baby store that I did 5 years ago. But you do site:yourdomain.com at Froogle.com, which will take you to the Google Products, and you can see if you are in there. And this basically tells you that if you have a Legacy store, you are not in there, which was totally freaking me out on these things.
And again, it was maybe 1% of my sales and my traffic. I mean I could spend my time on SEO and get such a higher ROI, a bigger bang for my buck, by going and getting more links, developing content, and all that kind of stuff, and grow greater than 1%.
But things keep changing, and especially the last three or four months. Google has been increasing the number of search queries in the organic search results and including shopping results, and that is why this is a big deal for me now. That is why I am getting religious about product feeds.
So I am looking at shopping feeds and comparison shopping engines from the vantage point of a person who gets a lot of free traffic through organic, through SEO, somebody who does pay-per-click, but shopping has never been a major challenge for us. But now, you have got to pay attention to it. You have got to make sure you are in there, and you have to optimize it.
And so, it is January, and if you don’t have a custom feed, or you haven’t added “condition” to your XML files and to your product files, then you are missing out on tons of free traffic, and you may be losing some SEO traffic that you don’t even know about.
Search engine optimization is always changing. I mean every 90 days, it seems there is just like a change of how you go about doing things or what the engines are doing. You always have to stay on top of it.
But one thing seems to be a constant: Google has more than 50% market share. Google is the 800 pound gorilla, followed by Bing, Yahoo!…
Brian: Rob, I have to interrupt. They look like Pac-Man right there.
Rob: Yeah, yeah. And they are eating all their competitors. And it freaks me out a little bit how much of my traffic these days comes from Google. And I am getting 75%, 80% of my traffic on most of the sites that I work on from the Google site.
Let’s take a look at the search engine results page. So when someone goes to Google and they do a product based search like “orange dog collars”.
In the yellow there, you are going to see the organic search results. And most of all you all know this. This is free. Google crawls the web. It finds websites. It follows links. It uses an algorithm to determine the rankings based upon relevancy. I talk about this ad nauseum on my website and in my book. I am obsessed over getting ranked here. And for this query, you can see that I am number one and number two.
Also, above the top and down the right-hand side, you can see the sponsored links or pay-per-click advertising. You have to pay to be in these positions. So this is the other half of search engine marketing, pay-per-click. And as you all know, you have to pay to be in here, but you only pay when people actually click on your ads.
The thing that is changing, though, is they have this thing called “universal search results”, where the search engines are now pulling information from multiple places. Not only are they pulling stuff from the organic index and from PPC ads, but they are also pulling results from their video search database. And sometimes, if a video is relevant to a search query, Google will pop that up.
And down here at the bottom in the pink, you will see the shopping results for “orange dog collars”. This screenshot is probably from 6-8 months ago. It is one of my pet queries that I use in a lot of presentations. And you will notice, I am not listed here. And it is a generic search. It is pretty broad. There is not a product called “orange dog collar” that we sell. But if you look down there at Petco, you see the words “orange dog collar” in the name of their feeds. And not only do they have a feed and they are in there, but they are also optimizing for it.
And like I said, the SingleFeed guys contacted me and educated me about what I was supposed to do, and then did some stuff behind the scenes. And this is just a quick overview of what we had to go through over the four or five weeks of setting things up. I mean I had to set up an account. I had to do some things that Yahoo! normally does behind the scenes if you are using Yahoo! for your feed. I had to set up a Google Merchant Center account. I had to unhook my XML. I had to email Google to get them to undo Yahoo! as my feed provider. Then I had to go add these custom shopping fields to STORE.
And then, the guys at SingleFeed had the Yahoo! Store developer FastPivot, who are some hillbilly buddies of mine from North Carolina, they went in and did some RTML, because I have got a Legacy store, so they made me an export template.
And then SingleFeed did all this stuff. I know they are not getting enough credit with these two lines here. They categorized the products. They cleaned up the data. They set up some rules. And then they started sending my information to Google.
Here is a screenshot of the Google Merchant Center. One thing that you don’t really think about, you actually have to go create an account, and this is kind of like your AdWords account. You can kind of think of it that way.
And the thing is, we got pretty fast results. I mean I kind of set it up…I had a whole bunch of other things going on. And then Ryan started emailing me, and he said, “What do you think about your Christmas present?” And I was like, “What the hell are you talking about?” So I said, “I need to go check and see, because maybe we are getting some results.”
And like Brian was saying a minute ago, are you even in Google Products Search? So if you go to google.com/products or froogle.com and type this query in, type in site:yourdomain.com, you can actually see if you are showing up.
And lo and behold, we were showing up. So I did site: gundogsupply.com, and all of a sudden, wham, all my products came up. And I was getting really excited here. And I could see some of the work that we had done paying off. I could see that our products were…you could filter by brand, and those were brands that we had specified in our data feeds, going in and hand coding every single product with a manufacturer field.
You can also see here by one of the product listings, you can see the new field. You have to have condition for your products to be included in Google. There is also a free shipping field. This product is more than $125, so the guys at FastPivot made our template say anything that is more than $125, turn on the free shipping field.
And you can see the seller ratings. We have 430 ratings, and that is taken into account in the algorithm as far as a return in results. And one of the really cool things is that I cut off the Yahoo! Store ratings that came out…When somebody places an order, as a merchant, you can give them the option to rate the transaction on those five different things. And I think we change the order motion. And at that time, for some reason we just cut it off. And of these 431 reviews, all but about four or five of them are actually from 2007 and before. So it is pretty cool that you still get credit for those. But that is a really important thing to turn that on, because that helps your ratings.
OK. Let’s actually look at some specific results. This is a keyword that converted into a sale. Somebody went to Google and searched for “Lewis dog boots”. And there you see it. It is right there in the shopping results. We are popping up. We are popping up above the organic results. If you look at the organic results, you can see us listed there. But at the very, very bottom, you can see Steve’s blogs listed there, too.
But in this example, somebody did this search. They ignored my organic listings. They ignored the ads. And the clicked on my Google Shopping results, went to the store, and placed and order. So that is a converting keyword right there.
Here is another example that really freaks me out, and this is why I was like, “I have got to talk to all my peeps about making sure that not only are they in Google Products, but they are optimizing for Google Products.”
All right. “smartwork dog training books”. This is a search on Google for this type of books that we actually publish. My brother has a publishing career that nobody knows about.
But if you will notice this, look how far down the page this is. Someone has skipped over the organic results, where we are ranked #1 and #2, the holy graile of search engine optimization, and they are going to the shopping results. And this totally freaked me out, because this tells me that shopping is so much more important than it was a year ago.
A year ago, Google shopping was maybe 1% of folks’ traffic. For me, half of that traffic was coming from my AdWords ads that I was running because I was too lazy to figure out shopping stuff. But now, I mean it is so much more important. You have to pay attention to this kind of stuff.
And the way that I know it is working on my end, I love Yahoo! Web Analytics. A lot of folks are running Google Analytics. I am running that too, but I am deep, deep, deep into the Yahoo! Web Analytics.
And if you want to see how much traffic you are getting from Google Products…Wait, let me say one more thing. On the Shopping Search results…let me go back. In my analytics, I can see that 60% of my traffic from this feed is coming from people clicking on the shopping results for “smartworks dog training books”, going to the Froogle part of Google, poking around, and then clicking and going to my site. They are actually coming from that small…just from Product Search.
So they search on Google. Then they bop around inside Product Search. Then they go to my store. But, this is the important thing: 40% of the clicks that I am getting from SingleFeed right now are coming straight from the search results page. That means they are clicking on that “smartworks for retrievers,” the red down there, which goes straight to my Yahoo! Store.
And one thing is if you don’t tag your shopping feed URL’s, you will never know that that was a click from being in the shopping feed. Because in your Analytics, it is going to show up just as a search query, like, “Search for hunting dog boots.”
You cannot tell the difference right now in a click from that little thumbnail compared to a click from your organic listings.
And so, what you think happens, “Hey, my organic traffic is doing fine,” but you may be giving some of the credit for your SEO efforts to clicks that are coming from an unoptimized feed by accident.
And the way we found out, we looked in Yahoo! Web Analytics. I set up filters to say, “Show me all the customers who are coming from Google.com/products and the URL.” And I looked back. And I switched over to the new Yahoo! Web Analytics, I guess, back in June. And you can see here…I mean this is just a trickle of traffic. I went back to my old analytics. I was using Index Tools up until the middle of the year. And I was getting maybe 10-20 people, even before Google changed and shot all the Yahoo! Stores in the head and said, “You can’t be in Google Products unless you jump through these hoops.”
And look at this. You can tell when I hooked up with SingleFeed here. And this isn’t a million visitors a day. But this is, you know, anywhere from a buck to three bucks a click. This is awesome traffic that I am paying $99 a month to be doing this. That is why I am pushing these guys.
And here you can see, these are all the visitors that have the tag. If you guys at SingleFeed can jump in right now if you can, is there a switch in SingleFeed where you have to click a button or something to automatically tag your URL’s, or does it automatically happen?
Ryan: So, yeah. There is a little tiny checkbox to append tracking code URL’s. And this is something that is applicable to Google Analytics, Yahoo! Analytics, Core Metrics, Omniture; whatever kind of tracking codes you want to throw on there, you guys can customize these. By default, we can do Google Analytics just with the click of a mouse.
Rob: Yeah, and I think that is what happened. Either I clicked it on or you guys did, because all of a sudden, they started showing up with this filter that I set up. So in Yahoo! Web Analytics, I have got a custom report that I have got bookmarked, and so I can just go look and press a button and see exactly how much traffic I am getting. And my traffic from Google Products actually shot up before my tagged URL traffic did. That’s why I am bringing that up.
But like I said, I didn’t get a million dollars in sales from this. Since the thing turned on about December 13th, as of last week, we had 131 extra orders.
And if you annualize that, you know, you are looking at less than $70,000 a year on a multi-million dollar Yahoo! Store. But this is just showing up. I mean, we weren’t even really optimized for, I’d say, 90% of that graph. Just now we got all the manufacturers added. We are in there adding UPC’s and part numbers.
Now what? I guess the question is, “Do you want to let Yahoo! Store handle your feeds? Do you want to let the default settings that apply to 45,000 other stores control your destiny now that Google is actually pushing Google products on the homepage?” So it is 5-10 times more important now to be in control of what is showing up there.
Or, do you want an expert? In my life, it is like I either have to become that expert or hire that expert. And with SingleFeed, man, they take care of a lot of that kind of stuff.
And my disclaimer here. I am not getting paid for doing this Webinar. I am not an affiliate of SingleFeed. They have asked me to become one because I am getting a bunch of folks going over there. Any revenue that I get from SingleFeed, if you mention my name, anything that comes to me, I am going to donate to the Red Cross for Haiti, because I don’t want to…I like to be independent. I am not a Communist, but it is something that is important. And the reason I am talking about this stuff is because it is important for retailers, not so that I can make an extra $1,000 or something.
All right. So let’s talk about adding mandatory fields. You can do this yourself. My friend Shauna at One Choice for YStore has got a great video on Youtube. If you want to do this yourself, if you have a merchant solutions store, if you want to turn on the condition field…And probably half the people on this call have already done this, because maybe you sell more consumer oriented products than I do. I mean I sell weird specialty niche stuff. Most of my clients sell weird specialty niche stuff; stuff that is not really…You know, it is not iPods and shoes. So shopping engines haven’t been that important to us.
But she has got a great video. It is five minutes long. It walks you through how to turn on these things that you have to turn on.
And as a Yahoo! Store owner, you need to know if you have a Merchant Solutions store or a Legacy store. If you are like me, I have had a store since ’97. We are Legacy stores. If you opened up a new store today, it will be a Merchant Solutions store.
The main difference is that there are two different XML feeds. If you go into your Yahoo! Store Manager, I mean you can tell by looking at the top of your account; you know what you got. But I mean Legacy Stores only have the first XML feeds. But people who “upgrade” to Merchant Solutions get both. And I have a pretty strong opinion about that, but I will talk about that in a minute.
So to get our data out of our Yahoo! Store, to get our product data out, because we are a Legacy Store, because of some funky things Legacy Stores don’t do, we had to get some custom RTML from FastPivot. They were awesome and they knocked it out really fast.
And here is like an example of the feed. And basically, it is a text file. They take the data and they…Like I said, remember about the free shipping field a little while ago? It is a smart page, in that if the product price is more than $125, it puts free shipping in there. If it is less than $125, it doesn’t. So there are some cool things that they can do with that.
And then we had to actually go in and add custom fields.
Merchant Solutions is easier. It is really easy to add a field, or tons of fields, to Merchant Solutions Stores. But if you are a Legacy Store, Yahoo! is going to charge you a 50% increase in revenue share. And to me, the ability to add custom fields is the only advantage to having a Merchant Solutions Store.
With a multimillion dollar store, if you want a 50% increase in that Yahoo! revshare, go ahead. I am not going to do it. I am going to do the hard work.
Here is an example on the Merchant Solutions. You go to Store Manager, you go to Catalogue Manager, you click on the tables. I am not going to go through all the details o this, but here is a list of the fields that you can select. This is under Shopping Fields. And you can see on here where I have added “condition”, which is the main one, and “classification”.
All right. If you are a Yahoo! Store owner and you have a Legacy Store, I am going to touch on a couple of these things. You need to get your propeller head to know about this. As a retailer, you don’t have to know about types. But the guy who is programming your store, or whoever does your RTML or your templates, your developer, they can tell you whether you have the default types or custom types.
If you have custom types, which is really cool, all you have to do is go to one place and you can add all the fields that you want to add, hit update, and boom; it is rolled out across the entire store. You publish and it is done. I mean you go to the “types”, you click on the “custom types”…
Your propeller head can do this. If you have questions, you can email me, but this isn’t a tutorial on that.
If you are like me and have a store that is 12 years old, I still had 600 products that are literally 12 years old. These are the default item.types. So we had to go in and hand add, to every single one of these 600 products, a manufacturer field, a UPC field, a manufacturer part number to every single product. And it sucks, but it is better than the revshare increase.
All right. So I made a utility template on my Yahoo! Store so we could go in and do this, and this is an example showing the name of the product. And then on the right-hand column, that is a list of the manufacturer names. We had to go in and add all this data into the fields now that they were on the Yahoo! Store.
And so, we started off with brand or manufacturer. Now we are adding UPC data and manufacturer number. Just a quick note on UPC fields. If you put the wrong UPC # in there, or like the UPC # with a space, Google will spit it back out. Like last week, one of my best products disappeared from Google Product Search. We tried to figure out why and we found that it had a bad UPC # in that. So I went in and took out the space.
SingleFeed scrapes every single day. It republishes every single day. It pushes the data every single day to Google. So within two days, SingleFeed had gotten it, fixed it, and uploaded it to Google and we were as good as new.
If you are competing with like the Amazon’s and Cabela’s of the world, you need the same quality product information. So you need to have the brand, the UPC #, the manufacturer number. If you sell books, you need the ISBN. If you sell digital cameras, you need all the specs that are in Google.
A good tool to see what specs other folks are using is tomthedeveloper.com. He may be a competitor of SingleFeed in a way. He is a consultant, but he has got a cool free online tool that you can go in and do this competitor analysis. And at the bottom, you probably can’t see that, but you can see…this is one of my products. You can see the product type, the UPC code, the ID, the brand. And you can see that I’ve got two custom attributes showing up now: the shipping field and this product_ad_extension_trademark_cleared, which I am not even sure what that is.
One note. Once you get your feeds set up, if you have an AdWords account, you can marry up your AdWords account and your Google Merchant Center so that you can take advantage and pump some of your feed stuff into your AdWords ads.
I don’t really have a lot of time to get into that, but if you search for “orange dog collars”, sometimes you will see “show products from Gun Dog Supply for orange dog collars”. If you click on that little plus sign, this box will open and you can see different products. And there are some fields inside your feed where you can control what products they are or what products actually show…
SingleFeed guys, help me out. Is there a field where you can actually say what keywords to show on the product level? I am not sure, but we can touch on that.
All right. Just to sum up. It is January 2010. If you don’t have a custom feed, or if you haven’t added “condition” manually, you are missing out on tons of free Google traffic.
I have got a ton of information on my website. Click on the “read this first”. My email is rob atsign ystore.com. I try to answer anybody who emails me questions. I like to talk about this kind of stuff. I got tons of free info on my site. Sign up for my newsletter with info atsymbol ystore.com. And fellas, that’s me. I am done. Let me turn it back over to Brian and Ryan.
This is the email I sent out:
-- -- -- --
Recently, I shot my mouth off on a Yahoo! Store WEBINAR and at
PUBCON that while I knew Yahoo! Store SEO pretty well, getting
well-ranked in the Google shopping results makes my head hurt.
Fortunately, the guys from SingleFeed were listening, contacted me
after the show, and told me they knew comparison shopping engine
feeds like I know SEO.
My main takeaway from them was "It's not good enough to just HAVE a
feed. You have to OPTIMIZE IT." Ok. So show me!
Sign up because you need this info:
Free Yahoo! Store WEBINAR:
"Optimizing Google Products / Shopping Feeds for YAHOO! STORES"
next Wednesday, January 27 @ 1pm Eastern, 12noon Central, 10AM Pacific
Look: I'm sending this to over 3000 Yahoo! Store owners.
I want to cap attendance at ~125 REAL store owners so we can handle questions,
so if you are NOT a store owner, please DON'T sign up!
If we get swamped like last time, we'll do another one ASAP.
SPEND / EFFORT:
I spend $99 a month on Singlefeed for one store. I had to add
a manufacturer field to my products, and change a few settings
on my Google Merchant account, but it was really easy.
Our new feeds were indexed and showing up in Google on 12/13.
Since then we've gotten 2986 EXTRA visitors,
131 orders, with $7817.65 in sales.
And I know SOMEONE will say that bump's just the last week of the
Christmas season, so check this out: In the past 19 days, I've
gotten 1713 extra visitors, with 77 extra orders for an extra $3588
in sales that I would not have gotten otherwise, JUST from free
Google Shopping clicks. Sweet!
Multiply this increase out for the rest of the year and I'm looking
at an extra $68,927 from FREE Google traffic I didn't have before.
And to be TOTALLY candid, we've only really gotten started. Now
we're adding more data and more custom fields to more products to
optimize them to get MORE free traffic. And I'm rolling this across
ALL MY YAHOO! STORES now!
WANT TO KNOW HOW "I" DID IT?
I'll take all the credit, but Ryan and the SINGLEFEED guys did most
the work. Some of the same concepts from SEO apply, but you have to
have all the right info in all the right fields. Get ready to take
Please sign up for our FREE ONE-HOUR WEBINAR
Next Wednesday, January 27 at
1:00PM ET / 12NOON CT/ 10:00AM PT
I'm a guest on their webinar on optimizing your Yahoo! Store
for shopping engines. We'll share what we did, what worked,
what we're working on now, as well as what's next.
These guys know what they're doing. If you're interested in
getting more traffic/sales from Google, or sticking your little
toe into another source of shopping traffic, it's worth a listen.
Personally, I'm not selling anything, nor getting paid if you
sign up for SINGLEFEED, although if I get 100 people to show up,
they said they'll give me a t-shirt.
I probably SHOULD be an affiliate, but I'm doing this for them
for free because they give away SUCH good info.
And even though I'm a guest, but I have a feeling we'll take
over the webinar! ;)